Tag - Science

Kevin Anderson: We can succeed, but humanity is about to choose to fail

In this episode we meet Kevin Anderson, professor of Climate and Energy at the University of Manchester. Kevin talks about the widespread illusion that we can mitigate climate change within business as usual, small steps and some future technology. Instead the understanding that we have a carbon budget forces us to reduce the emissions of CO2 with about 10% per year, starting now.

He concludes that we have the scientific knowledge and technical solutions to move to renewable energy, but we lack the political, economical and cultural will to implement the systems at scale.

He is endorses the research of so called ”negative emissions” and geo engineering, but does not want us become dependent upon them.

He works on climate questions because we still have a possibility to avoid catastrophe, but he thinks we are about to choose to fail. ”Let’s not pretend it is not a choice”.

The conversation took place in Stockholm, February 20, 2017.

Will Steffen. Anthropocene, Great acceleration and Feedbacks

This weeks episode is an interview with Will Steffen. He an Australian Earth system scientist and he knows a lot about things like the biosphere, glacial cycles, ocean acidification, fossil industry, geo-engineering, complex system, feedbacks, resilience and tipping points.

One of the stories Steffen will share with you is the situation when Nobel prize winner Paul Crutzen invented the name and concept of The Anthropocene. Will was one of the scientists in the room as it happened in at a workshop in Mexico 2000.

He will also describe the The Great Acceleration, another concept that was born with Will and his colleagues at IGBP.

He shares his top three high-level tasks that we need to manage a lot better than we’ve done so far, Radiative balance, Human Equity and our connection to the Biosphere.

We also talk about metaphors, energy, tipping points in nature as well as in the social-political system and the post-truth era in society.

Conclusions… a lot. For instance tipping points. Both in nature, for exemplet with the Arctic ice melting and it’s albedo feedback… But also the tipping points in renewable energy. We are so locked in to the view that the price of oil sets the price of all energy, consumption, travel, inflation and people worrying about their energy bills etc. But what happens if/when it is cheaper to build solar farms and put up solar panels on your roof-top than to dig up fossil carbon and build big infrastructure like coal fired power plants? That is a shift, not only in how we produce electricity, but in the way the price is set and who is to get the money. It is a shift of power, in many different ways.

I also find the discussion about the feedbacks in system very interesting. You have feedbacks in all complex systems. They take different forms, for example the feedbacks from society to climate, the climate negotiations and the UNFCCC, trying to keep the climate system in a stable situation.

And the resilience of the fossil industry threatening the resilience of both climate and civilisation as we know it (and hence of course also the fossil industry itself).

I slso ask Will about his favourite metaphors, for example to describe complex systems, feedbacks etc.

Martin Hedberg

Sarah Cornell about The Anthropocene

A conversation with Sarah Cornell, a scientist and researcher at SRC, Stockholm Resilience Centre, about The Anthropocene, ecosystems, feedbacks (both in nature and in models), Planetary Boundaries, the SDGs, dinosaurs and what it takes to create major shifts on this planet.

Sarah Cornell is the Coordinator of the Planetary Boundaries research laboratory and the co-convenor of the international Planetary Boundaries Research Network. She has a particular focus on conceptualisations of humans in the Earth system.

Some word explanation might help…
Endogenous substances and processes are those that originate from within an organism, tissue, or cell. (Wikipedia).
SDGs: The Sustainable Development Goals: ”…a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” (UNDP).
– Planetary Boundaries: ”…a set of nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come” (SRC).

The interview was made January 14, 2016 at the same event where Alan AtKisson had a release event around the SDGs. You can listen to him in this episode.